Am I the only one who is uncertain as to why asthma isn't an exclusion criterion for prescription charge payment? I guess I shouldn't be complaining just yet as I still fit neatly in the middle of the bracket that says, '16, 17 or 18 and in full-time education', so I don't pay anyway. But when I get there, and for all the people with asthma who currently don't fit any of the exclusion criteria, it's going to be expensive.
I'm going to make this about me, but seriously I'd love people to weigh in with their own calculations, prices and thoughts. I am genuinely intrigued to know what other people think about this and what other people are going through.
My AAP Green Zone has Seretide 50/25 written in it. My Yellow Zone has Seretide 125/25, and my Red Zone has Salamol 100. In 12 months, if we base it one the past 9 months, on my current AAP I will go through 12 Seretide 50/25s, probably 3 Seretide 125/25s, 3 Salamols, at least 4 rounds of Pred., and we'll say about the same for antibiotics. Just for these, at the current recently revised rate of £8.20 per item (that in itself is kinda depressing because my Salamol is much cheaper than that) I would have to pay over £200 just for my asthma medications. I have a Mometasone nasal spray for hayfever which I would need for at least 7 of those 12 months so that's nearly £60. I have Dermol for atopic eczema, which I would probably need 3 bottles of in a year, so thats £24.60. I rely on Pizotifen for cluster migraine prohylaxis, and I need 15 of those a year so thats another £123. Then I have Vitamin D3 which is just that bit cheaper on prescription, rolling in at £41 for the year, and an Otomize or two for ear infections which I am prone to. That's another £16.40. So for everything each year at the lowest numbers possible (in other words, I probably would need more Prednisolone and I might lose a couple of inhalers, I might need a new spacer or peak flow meter, and I have spare inhalers for my ice hockey kit) I would be paying nearly £500. My conditions are currently not fully controlled as it is so while there is hope in other medications in addition to my current ones, that would carry expense. For instance there may be benefits to trialling Montelukast for my hayfever (which affects my asthma) and for the exercise-induced component of my asthma, so if that were to continue, I would need 15 boxes a year, so another £123. There is hope in Imigran injections for cluster attacks, so that is probably at least one a month, which comes to £98.40. And like I say, I could need more of something or spares of something or a new whatever. If I were to have had to pay prescription charges for the past 6 months alone, that's 3 Ventolins (back win I was going through two canisters a month), 3 spacers, 1 peak flow meter, 2 Clenils, 4 Salamols (spares for ice hockey), another Ventolin because the canister from my other one got stolen, 4 rounds of Pred., 4 rounds of antibiotics, 1 Otomize, 1 Mometasone spray, 3 Seretide 50/25, 2 Seretide 125/25, 1 Bricanyl turbuhaler, 1 box of Vitamin D3, 4 boxes of Pizotifen, 1 box of Imigran tablets, 1 box of co-codamol, 10 boxes of Benadryl Plus, and 1 bottle of Dermol; this amounts to a sum of £386.40 (at the rate of £8.05 as I have not filled a prescription since April 1st). That is for half a year. I didn't use half of that second Clenil. I used two tablets from the Co-codamol because they set off my asthma, put me into respiratory depression and made me very sick. The Bricanyl was short-lived because I can't use DPIs.
My point is, if I had typical epilepsy requiring typical continuous anti-convulsive therapy with, for example, carbamazepine, it would only cost me ~£98.40 per yer. But if I were that person, I would not even have to pay that. But because I am asthmatic, I will soon have to pay £150 per year just for my maintenance and reliever meds, not counting Prednisolone and antibiotics for asthma-related infections or flare-ups.
Just to clarify, I know that there are many people with epilepsy on more than one medication, and the other criteria for medical exemption, such as myasthenia gravis and diabetes which isn't diet-controlled, I understand. But asthma and epilepsy..well, they work on a similar scale, price-wise. Someone with severe asthma will be paying A LOT of money in the same way that someone with severe epilepsy would if they weren't exempt. But that's just the thing, isn't it? And exemption makes you exempt from ALL prescription charges. A friend of mine has Type 1 Diabetes and mild asthma. Sure, she doesn't have to pay for her insulin and testing strips and new glucose meters and needles and all the * that comes with diabetes. But she also doesn't - and never will have to - pay for her asthma medications. She is on Clenil 100, 2 puffs once a day, and a Salbutamol reliever which she rarely uses. I have known her for 6 years and not once has she needed Prednisolone. Asthma-wise, she has 4 prescriptions for Clenil and 1 reliever to fill each year. That's only £41 per year, covered by exemption for a condition which is unrelated to her asthma.
I don't know..maybe I'm being silly. But I honestly feel that persistent asthma should be an exemption criterion. Don't you?